Archive for the ‘Rocktek’ Category

Rocktek MWR-01 Metal Worker

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Rocktek-MWR01-MetalWorker

What is it?
Rocktek MWR-01 Metal Worker Distortion. Made in china, around early to mid 90’s.

For some reason i dig these old cheap plastic things. For what’s interesting is that while these were clearly intended as an entry level boxes for the folks who bought their kids the very first guitar set, the designs are not bad. The plastic boxes follow strictly the methods of a decade older japanese designs. While these were made in china, the feel inside is per Arion, Aria, Monacor and tons of other japanese brands from the eighties.  I somehow feel like these all were originally designed by the same people. The obvious downsides are the brittle and cheap feeling plastic and weak pots with annoyingly loose fastening of the knobs. Not to mention the battery compartment lid, which can be lost. But once we open these up..

Rocktek-MWR01-MetalWorker-guts1

The board looks a lot like the japanese ones found from the brands mentioned above. Traces look neat and the work isn’t bad at all. Without the “made in china” text on the bottom plate, i’d think this was a japanese build.

Rocktek-MWR01-MetalWorker-guts2

There’s no schematic available, but to me this seems like a three 6458 dual opamp distortion with two of the channels used as gyrators for the tone controls. In a sense, not that far off from Boss HM-2, DOD American Metal and others. I can see three diode clipping sections, but none of them look like germaniums. So there is a great chance that the designs isn’t that close to the HM-pedals. Either way, the tone controls are effective and other than cheap aging plastic, there isn’t that much bad i can say.

How does it sound?
Beefy with decent output levels and reasonably good EQ controls. The tone does not go to the chainsaw territory, while it still has a noticeable metal quality to it. To be completely honest, this doesn’t sound bad at all. In fact, i’d choose this over either one of Danelectro Cool Cat series metal pedals in a heartbeat. It doesn’t sound as good as Boss HM-2, but very good nevertheless.

This brand keeps surprising me. The housing may be cheap and the pots weak on all Rocktek pedals, but there is one aspect where they have not saved money on majority of the pedals from this brand. The board and sound quality. I know this is a lot to say about one of the cheapest brands in the history of the guitar pedal. But sure enough. Rocktek did a number of things right. I just may need to get my hands on more of these…

Rocktek CHR-1 Chorus

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Rocktek-CHR1-Chorus

What is it?
Rocktek CHR-1 Chorus. Made in china around early to mid 90’s. Housed in brittle, all plastic enclosure.

Noticed a lot of two Rocktek pedals, listed as broken on eBay. First one was this one and the second was the Metal Worker distortion. Sniped the lot for decent price and waited with enthusiasm to get the units on my bench. I’ll write another post on the Metal Worker later, so we can focus on chorus on this one. I do enjoy sharing these straight-forward repair reports…

So the unit was completely dead. First, i took it completely apart and noticed two faults that looked a lot like the unit had taken a quick flight and stopped suddenly at a wall. With all the cables attached. The input jack had been totally shattered and the DC jack was torn off from the solder joints, taking an important chunk of the ground strip with it. Basically, a new board mounted input jack, new joints for the DJ jack and a crude, almost brutal fix for the broken ground strip. That was it. The circuit was running like me, ten years ago. Fix was pretty simple and i happened to have suitable parts at hand.

Rocktek-CHR1-Chorus-guts1

Effect offered other surprises. I’m not sure where the design is ripped off, but the board design is looking a lot like ten year older japanese designs. The design itself is a standard MN3102/MN3207 chorus with LM358 acting as an LFO and a JRC4558D as a mixer amp. Very good looking board and nice analog chorus design. True. There isn’t that much in there to be throwing wow factor around, but overall design does keep all the mehs away.

Rocktek-CHR1-Chorus-guts2

Electronic switching and all the things around it will keep this unit far away from most desired old pedals. Sucky, not too well designed buffering won’t response to people who require modern pedal standards. I do find this one interesting.

How does it sound?
Very nice and usable. Soft analog chorus with reasonable control range. There’s nothing special about the sound, but overall feel is pretty close to all the other unit from 80’s and 90’s with same choice of BBDs. The MN3102/MN3207 has a nice, clear, yet personal chorus sound. Well worth getting this unit, even though it won’t be a prime suspect for your board. These seem to be selling cheap, so for an good sounding analog chorus for your recording needs, this may be a very good choice.